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Know Your Foe, Week 5: Army Black Knights

Penn State faces Army Saturday at noon on Military Appreciation Day.

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The United States Military Academy at West Point (1-3)

Location: West Point, NY
Enrollment: 4,294
Home Stadium: Michie Stadium
Head Coach: Jeff Monken (2nd season, 5-11)

Series History

First Game: October 7, 1899 (Army won 6-0)
Last Game: October 13, 1979 (Penn State won 24-3)
Overall: Penn State leads series 13-10-2 (.560)
Current Streak: Penn State has won 9 games in a row (Last Army win: 1966)

Last Season (4-8)

It was a rocky first season for new coach Jeff Monken, but that certainly had more to do with the state of Army's football program than its new head coach. The season featured some nice wins, including ones over UConn and recent Penn State foe Buffalo. Still, it was an 8-loss season that saw them lose to Yale, get blown out a number of times, and struggle to even compete in road games.


In recruiting, Army had the 120th ranked recruiting class in 2015. The service academies have always struggled to recruit, but in recent years Army has fallen behind Navy and Air Force and this offseason was no different. Very little that they did managed to move the needle.

Army did not receive any votes in the preseason polls.

Last Week

Army traveled to Ypsilanti to take on Eastern Michigan and earned a 58-36 victory, their first of the season. They had the ball for over 40 minutes and compiled 556 rushing yards in a badly needed win. Six different Black Knights ran for 60+ yards.

Offense (Triple Option)

Army is going to run the football, and run it a lot. The quarterback position is in a bit of a state of flux, with Ahmad Bradshaw running the show for the first three weeks but splitting time last week with A.J. Schurr. The quarterback is always an important part of the triple option, and the lack of steadiness is an indication that Army isn't satisfied with the direction of the position in the early going. Recall that Navy had similar issues with uncertainty at quarterback with this offense in their game against Penn State in 2012.

Fullbacks Matt Gianchinta and Aaron Kemper are likely to see the most handoffs, with slotbacks Joe Walker and John Trainor also getting into the mix. Walker and Trainor are just as likely to catch passes as any of the wide receivers or tight ends, as this offense will pretty much stay on the ground throughout.

Defense (3-4)

Army's defense in 2014 was nothing short of a disaster. So far in 2015, it's been somewhat improved, and has kept them in each of their three losses.

Their top players on defense are junior linebackers Jeremy Timpf and Andrew King, who have already combined for 61 tackles in the first four games. Army is also not terrible in the secondary, with Rhyan England and Xavier Moss right behind Timpf and King in tackle totals.

Army's biggest issues defensively have come on the defensive line, where they've been pushed around a lot in recent seasons. New nose guard T.J. Atimalala has shown some nice potential, but the rest of the line has struggled to gain traction. With Penn State potentially down its two top running backs, it's the right time for the offensive line to be facing an inferior defensive line.


As an independent team, you can find coverage about Army at SB Nation's Underdog Dynasty.